3 Vans, 6 Coolers, a Plane, a Storm and 2 Labs: A Nasal Swab’s Journey

A nurse, Joanne Massarotti, approved a resident for a coronavirus test in Paramus, N.J.
Ryan Christopher Jones/The New York Times

Date Published: April 13, 2020

Source: The New York Times

There is a severe shortage in COVID-19 test kits and a backlog in the labs analyzing the patient samples in the U.S. This story follows the journey of nasal swabs from patients in New Jersey, the state with the second-highest caseload in the U.S. As diagnostic labs in New Jersey have reached their saturation point for the number of tests they can analyze daily, the overflow of nasal swabs are now being redirected to labs in states that still have some capacity for additional tests. They rely on well insulated coolers to keep the samples fresh and a fleet of FedEx trucks and planes to transport the precious cargo from state to state. This article features Quest Diagnostics, a private lab processing 35,000 samples daily, contracted by the U.S. government to alleviate the burden on state-operated labs. The executives of these private labs hold the U.S. government responsible for the testing bottleneck because they waited until late February before giving private labs the go-ahead to create diagnostic tests of their own. This bottleneck has forced ill residents in New Jersey to line-up as early as 11 p.m. the night before in order to ensure they will be swabbed before the tests run out for that day. Adding to their symptoms of shortness of breath, congestion, dizziness and fevers, is the anxiety of waiting for the test results to come back which can often take days. 

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/nyregion/coronavirus-testing.html

Summary by: Hira Raheel